History at Home -- 4 Steps for Buying a Victorian House of Your Own

Buying a Victorian home is a chance to own a piece of history that's both beautiful and unique. From the ornate architecture to the classic silhouette, Victorian style may be the most famous and well-loved home style in America. But, it also has some unique challenges. How can you know how to choose the right home for you and meet those challenges? Here is a quick guide to get you started.

Know Your Style. While many people think that "Victorian" is a single style, it actually encompasses many different types of architecture during this period of history. Learn the differences between such categories as Regency, Italianate, and Queen Anne, for example. You may want to tour some historic houses and historic districts to determine which types of structures and decoration appeal most to you. 

Find the Right Agent. Historic homes aren't quite like other homes for sale in the area. They have special needs, such as historic preservation and specialized parts. You may also find that your home has a long history that should be researched to avoid problems involving zoning, permits, liens, and conservation. Look for a real estate agent who is local and has experience with historic homes. Both you and your agent may want to browse specialized resources like national brokerages or historic home publications. 

Learn the Neighborhood. The standard real estate mantra of "location, location, location" also applies to your potential Victorian house. Tour the neighborhood to determine how it will affect your home's value and appearance. Since most Victorian buildings are in older neighborhoods, you want to ensure that the area is thriving, not going downhill. Having a beautiful and antique home in an industrial area, one with many vacancies, or other detractors can make it tough to both enjoy and resell your home.

Decide on a Renovation Budget. True Victorian homes are generally very old, and they may come with a fair amount of restoration or maintenance work that needs done. So, before you start looking at many homes, sit down to calculate how much you're willing (and able) to spend on fixing it up. This will inform your real estate agent about what types of homes to show you. The more willing you are to do updates like plumbing and electrical or remodel work (or even undo what prior owners have done), the lower price you can get. However, don't overestimate your renovation skills or budget, or you could end up being overwhelmed. 

If you follow these few steps, you will be in a good position to find the right house for your individual situation. The result will be a home you can love and enjoy for many years to come.